Eberl’s Symphony in E flat Op. 33 was composed in 1803 and premiered on January 6, 1804 in Vienna. It was performed again a year later on January 20, 1805, at a semi-public Sunday concert organized by the Viennese banker Würth, in direct competition with the first performance of Beethoven’s Eroica. The Viennese correspondent for the Allgemeine Musikzeitung wrote about the January 6, performance of Eberl’s E flat Symphony that “it was extraordinarily well conceived, full of incisive and new ideas.” Of the concert a year later, in which Eberl’s symphony was juxtaposed with the premiere of Beethoven’s Eroica, the critic for the AMZ observed that the Eberl symphony contained “so much that was beautiful and powerful” and “handled with so much genius and art, that it would be difficult for it ever to fail if it had been well rehearsed.” However, the same reviewer criticized Beethoven’s symphony, finding in it “too much that was shrill and bizarre, which makes an overview extremely difficult and thus unity almost is entirely lost.” Most important for our purposes is the contemporary critics’ unanimity that Eberl’s symphony presented something genuinely novel.  David Wyn Jones, in his 2006 study of The Symphony in Beethoven’s Vienna, accords Eberl a place of honor as the most gifted of Beethoven’s contemporaries, whose death on March 11, 1807 at age 42 of scarlet fever deprived the musical world of one its luminaries. Regarding the Symphony in E flat, Jones observes that “there are a number of features in the construction of the work that show Eberl’s imagination as a composer…..” One of Jones’s observations about the form deserves our careful consideration, and indeed will be the subject of our paper: this is his insight that in Eberl’s conception of sonata form there can be two distinct second groups whereby the second of these is clearly not the closing group, which has its own distinct profile and structural significance. In discussing this type of sonata form, we shall investigate the interaction of this particular sonata design with tonal structure. Beethoven may also employ it in the initial movement of his Eroica, possibly as a consequence of hearing the first performance of Eberl’s symphony in January 1804. I shall conclude with a few remarks concerning how this special type of sonata form may have influenced later composers.

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